The Morigaon Foreigner’s Tribunal (FT) – one among hundreds that are mandated to detect illegal immigrants in Assam under the National Register of Citizens (NRC)– has disclosed that Indian citizens are being declared foreigners allegedly with an aim to mint money. This was exposed by a judgment issued by the FT in Morigaon that shows how court notices and summons were not served on those against whom foreigner's cases were slapped and how the judgments were delivered ex-parte.
People reportedly have no idea that their citizenship has been under doubt, and a case is lodged against them in the FT, as the court-issued summons and notices were either not delivered or hanged on a tree or electric post or signed by ghost receivers. As a result, the FT has issued ex-parte order, declaring the person a foreigner. Such cases – according to the FT in Morigaon – are rampant across the state.
The sensational judgment says the whole system is a “money- making industry”, as the summons were not served to the opposite parties (OPs) and judgments were obtained from the tribunal showing that the OP is absent.
“Foreigner’s case at this juncture have assumed the form of an industry as each and every persons involved with foreigner's
case have been trying to mint money by any means,” said the order, which appears harsh in its tone and tenor.
The judgment did not stop there. It said, “Process servers usually hang the notice upon some trees or electric pole despite innumerable cautioning. As a result, the FT orders goes ex-parte.”
The observations came after the tribunal conducted its own investigations while deciding a case of Mussematt (widow) Amina Khatun & Others Vs State of Assam.
Amina – daughter of Turab Ali and wife of Md Mustan Ali alias Muslemuddin, Mussematt Alima Khatun and , Mussematt Narjia Begum are all residents of Madhya Kalikajari village in Morigaon district of Assam. They were declared foreigner on November 7, 2017 by the Morigaon FT on the basis of the report of the process server – the person who delivers summons or notices by hand. The case was proceeded ex-parte as the applicants/OPs were not found on the given address at the time of serving summon, as reported by the police station (Mikirbheta) concerned. Accordingly, the notice was hanged on a tree of the market place in the presence of Gaonburha (village head) and village VDP (Village Defence Party) president.
The tribunal has cautioned the process server and the Gaoburah several times not to hang the notices/summons like this, but it was not heeded.
“The process server, the Gaoburha and the VDP president were summoned by the tribunal innumerable times in various foreigners cases, directing all these persons not to hang notices in any ordinary places like the waiting shade/tree or upon electric poll but to hang the notices in some conspicuous place. But in most of the cases, it is repeatedly found that process servers usually hanged the notices upon some trees or electric poll,” the order reads.
The tribunal found that in most cases, the opposite party did not get a proper chance to represent before the court to represent the case before they were pronounced foreigners following court proceedings.
“For going through the deep of the entire matter,” it said, “the process server who issued the notices as well as the Gaonburhas were summoned and accordingly, their statements were recorded. The statement of Durllav Chandra Bora, who is the Gaonburha for entire Kalikajari locality/village, was initially asked as to whether names of proceedees appearing in F.T.384/16, F.T.390/16, F.T.416/16, F.T.(C)146/15, F.T.(C)92/15, F.T.(C) 303/15, F.T.(C) 60/15 are known to him or their whereabouts as they belong from his locality as all these cases were proceeded ex-parte duo to wrong report of the process server and also because he has put his signature on those reports. He said he knows all of them but during service of notice, he did not go to the OPs house as he was in NRC duty and that the process server took his signature prior to writing of the report,” revealed the order.
Most of the notice/summons – said the tribunal – were signed without going to the residential address of the opposite party. Process server makes the report at his whims. Notices were hung on electric polls of the villages which do not even have electricity. “The process server namely Deepak Kumar Patar has deposed that the Gaonburha have not gone with the process server since last two and half years and only tells them to go to the village and thereafter give the ground report whether OPs were found or not by signing it on the notice as a government witness,” it added.
“In view of the serious anomalies,” said the order, “it is amply proved that the signature found in most of the notices/summons are therefore signed without going to the residential addresses of OPs. From this, it can also be presumed that the process server makes the report as their whims”.
The tribunal said it is observed that foreigners case at this juncture have assumed the form of an “industry as each and every person involved with the foreigners case have been trying to mint money by any means”. “Accordingly, it is further derived from reliable sources that the Gaonburha /VDP secretary or president in connivance of the process server try to get cases proceeded ex-parte for some extraneous consideration, and in this entire endeavour includes involvement of third party,” observed the tribunal.
It directed the opposite party to lodge specific damage suits against the concerned Gaonburha/VDP president/secretary as well as the process server whose signatures are endorsed in the summons where the case proceeded ex-parte due to such “wrong/unfair” report.
The judgment concluded the order was passed to curb the menace of resorting to “unfair practice” and for the guilty of dereliction of duty for failing to serve the summon in proper manner.